Monday, August 31, 2009

Rebel Without a Cause: Film Location Update

James Dean dragged into Police Station
I recently took some new photos for another Rebel Without a Cause film location. This time I got the Police Station which can be seen at the beginning of the film when James Dean is being dragged by two cops. See the screenshot above.
The Police Station was actually a facade located on the the Midwestern Street of the Warner Bros. Studios backlot. Below is a photo showing how the same facade appears today.
Police Station Facade
If you look closely you can see that the facade is now being dressed to look like a high school, more specifically, "Eastwick High School," for the upcoming TV Show, Eastwick, airing this Fall on ABC.

The Police Station is now Eastwick High School

Police Station/Eastwick High School on WB Backlot
To see my full Rebel Without a Cause film post click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

East of Eden: Film Locations

East of Eden
Much of James Dean's first major film, East of Eden, was filmed on location in central California, but there were a few scenes filmed on the Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank. One scene in particular, the parade scene, was shot on the Midwest Street backlot. Here are some screenshots from the parade scene matched with some of my photos of the Midwest Street backlot. [scroll down to see additional updates added on November 18, 2013].

Click images to see larger.

East of Eden - Parade Scene
Above, the parade goes through town in what is supposed to be the Salinas Valley, but really it is the Warner Bros. Midwest Street backlot. Below is my photo showing the same area as it appears today. Notice one big difference? No dirt in the streets. Yes, dirt was brought in to cover the streets of the backlot in order to establish the time period of when the film takes place - 1917.

Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios

Chapel as seen in East of Eden
Above is a screenshot showing a chapel that can be seen during the parade scene. Below is the same chapel as it appears today.

Chapel on Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios

Drug Store - East of Eden

Above is a screenshot of the drug store. Julie Harris and Richard Davalos can be seen cutting between the cars.

Drug Store Location - Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank

Watching the Parade from the Park
Above Julie Harris and Richard Davalos watch the parade go by from the middle of the park. Below is a photo showing the park looking further out. That fountain in the middle is actually a set piece for a new TV show called Eastwick, based on the film The Witches of Eastwick. The show will be airing on ABC this fall.

Park in Midwest Street Backlot, Warner Bros. Studios

James Dean Stands Along Parade Route
Below is a photo I took of the buildings that appear behind James Dean when he stands along the parade route. Although the buildings have been repainted and changed slightly you can still make out the patterns on the windows.

Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios

Updated November 18, 2013

Raymond Massey, Julie Harris and James Dean

The "Trask" house located on Kings Row on the Warner Bros. backlot.

Previously this post on East of Eden film locations only included those locations seen on Warner Bros. Midwest Street backlot. Today I've updated this post to include the "Trask" family home set where James Dean, Raymond Massey, and Richard Davalos live in the film. The house is also located on the Warner Bros backlot, on a residential street just off of Midwest Street that is sometimes referred to as Kings Row (after the 1942 film titled Kings Row). Above is a comparison of the house and below is a comparison of the view looking down the sidewalk in front of the house.

Looking down the sidewalk from the Trask home on Kings Row.

A contemporary view looking down the sidewalk in front of the Trask home.

I also recently came across this brilliant video put together by Herve Attia which does an excellent job of doing a video comparison of the central California locations seen during the opening scene of East of Eden. You can push a button on the lower right corner of the video to expand to full screen.

East of Eden (1955) Opening scene filming locations comparison.

If you want to see where James Dean lived when he left New York for California to film East of Eden check out an earlier post of mine here.
If you want to see some film locations from another James Dean film click here.
You're thoughts?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cleopatra: Big Premiere - Big Disaster

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
The 1963 film Cleopatra, starring the always beautiful Elizabeth Taylor in the title role, is the third most expensive film ever made. A lot of money was spent getting this film right. Despite all the money spent and the all star cast which also includes Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Roddy McDowell, the film was a complete flop. 20th Century Fox almost went bankrupt because of this film!

Although many reviews of Cleopatra were negative, Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called the film "one of the great epic films of our day" in his 1963 review. And Cleopatra would even end up winning four Academy Awards.

To go along with the big budget of the film there was a big movie premiere at the historic Pantages theater in Hollywood, California.

Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood, Blvd, Hollywood, CA
Here is a video of the Cleopatra premiere at the Pantages theater. The video is a bit psychadelic but keep your eyes peeled for some old Hollywood stars:

You're thoughts?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chadney's Restaurant in Burbank

Chadney's Restaurant in Burbank, CA
Right across the street from NBC Studios in Burbank, CA is a shell of an old restaurant. Once a lunch spot and after hours hangout for NBC staffers, Warner Bros. employees, and workers from the Disney lot, the restaurant has been sitting vacant since 1998. Whenever I drive by the place I think of all the stories that could be told of the restaurant from when the times were good.
Chadney's Restaurant started in 1974 when former Sportsman Lodge pianist, Bill Chadney, joined up with contractor Bob Hoeller to open a steakhouse with live music. During the day the restaurant offered up juicy steak lunches for the nearby studio workers and at night a hoppin' jazz lounge for the after work crowd.

A view of Chadney's looking from NBC Studios, Burbank
Hoeller was quoted in a 1999 Los Angeles Times article saying, "I used to see Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw, and Bob Hope in here all the time. And I used to watch Milton Berle stink the place up with his cee-gars. He was big on cee-gars." I wish I could have walked in to Chadney's for a nice steak dinner when that was the crowd coming in. I think I could put up with the cigar smoke if it was coming from Milton Berle.

Chadney's Restaurant in Burbank - NBC to the Left
Business was good at Chadney's from the 1970s into the 1980s. The celebrities and workers were coming in. The big names in jazz came to perform - then business started to trickle off. By the late 80s the popularity of the place began to wear away and eventually Chadney's was sold to new owners in 1992. The new owners tried to keep Chadney's going but the big names had stopped coming. In 1998 the roof caved in on the restaurant and the place has been closed ever since.
Currently the building is up for lease and it has been this way for a long time now. I'm hoping somebody comes in, refurbishes the place and opens it as a new restaurant. However, I wouldn't be surprised if someone buys the place and tears the whole building down. Let's hope that someone can breath some life into the old restaurant!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Father of the Bride: Film Location

Father of the Bride home - 843 S. El Molino Dr. Pasadena, CA
As many people know, I'm getting married soon and in the same way I get into the spirit for Christmas or Halloween, I've been watching wedding related movies to get into the wedding spirit. What do you expect from a movie lover? My favorite wedding film is Father of the Bride, the 1991 version, starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton (I was going to say the recent classic as opposed to the old classic but 1991 really isn't that recent anymore!). Last week when driving through Pasadena I decided to stop by the house that was used for the Banks family home and to take some pictures.
Above is a screenshot from the film showing the Banks family home. Below is a photo I took of the actual home a week ago (8/7/2009).

Father of the Bride house in Pasadena
Looks nearly the same doesn't? The only real difference is the flowers on the white picket fence and the fuller foliage on the house.

Steve Martin in the driveway.

A view of the driveway as it appears today (8/7/2009)

One of the touching moments in the film is when Steven Martin is playing basketball with his daughter (played by Kimberly Williams) in the driveway. I've been told that the basketball scenes in the driveway were actually done at another location but I'm not sure where that might have been.

Screenshot of the Father of the Bride House in snow

Above is another screenshot of the Father of the Bride house after it is covered by a surprise snowfall. Now anyone living near Pasadena knows that it doesn't usual snow in this area and I think Steve Martin says something in the film that he was nine years old that last time he remembers it snowing. The above snowfall is pure movie magic. Below is another shot of the house as it appears today.

Father of the Bride house in Pasadena

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Omega Man (1971) - Film Locations

The Omega Man (1971)

Recently I tracked down the filming locations for the Charlton Heston movie The Omega Man (1971). This apocalyptic thriller based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend was done once before as a movie for Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth) and again a couple years ago as a movie for Will Smith (I Am Legend), but it is the Heston version I enjoy most. It is not that the Heston film is a better interpretation of the story - no, what I find most interesting about this version is that it uses Los Angeles as a backdrop.

Olympic Theater, 313 W. Eighth Street, Los Angeles

Charlton Heston is the lone survivor of biological warfare except for a few other humans who have been mutated into flesh eating zombies sensitive to light. During the day, while the zombies hide from the light, Heston scavenges the city trying to track down their hiding place. We see Heston at the start of the film driving around the deserted streets of Los Angeles and one of his stops is at the Olympic Theater located at 313 W. Eighth Street. Above is a screenshot of the theater as seen in the film and below is a photo of how the building appears today.

Olympic Theater, 313 W. Eighth Street

It's inside this theater that Heston watches the movie Woodstock. Because there hasn't been a new movie in the theater since human life was eliminated Heston is stuck watching this same film over again every time he goes to the theater. While watching the film he quotes the movie line for line.

Tower Theater, 802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

During this early scene we also get a glimpse of the Tower Theater as seen in the screenshot above. I actually found the Olympic Theater because I of recognizing the Tower Theater. Below is a photo I took this morning of the Tower Theater.

Tower Theater, 802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

Looking down Eighth Street, Los Angeles

Above is a screenshot from the film looking down Eighth Street. Below is a photo I took of the same location today (8/9/2009). Notice the Union Bank building is now the Union Lofts and most of all, the skyscraper in the horizon that did not exist during the time of the film!

Looking down Eighth Street, downtown Los Angeles

Looking down Santee Street, downtown Los Angeles
Above is a screenshot from the film looking down Santee Street in downtown Los Angeles. I wish I would have taken a photo of this location while I was walking around this part of town but I didn't recognize the location at the time. When I got home and looked at a larger version of the screenshot I noticed that the building on the lower left had an address painted on the side. I typed the address into Google maps and check it out - below a screenshot of the Google streetview. If you look at the windows of the building on the left and the far right you will notice that the same buildings are still standing. However, the two buildings in the near right appear to be torn down. Pretty cool what you can do with Google streetview huh?

Looking down Santee Street, downtown Los Angeles (C) Google

Heston's Penthouse
Above is a screenshot of Heston's penthouse apartment building. This is actually a facade located on the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank. Below is a great photograph from the website How The Ranch Was Weathered showing the same facade as it appeared in 2008. I just went by the ranch yesterday and it still looks the same.

Heston's Penthouse - a Facade at the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank

The Balcony of Heston's Penthouse as seen in The Omega Man

Ritchie finds the Zombie's Hideout
Later in the film Heston finds that there are a few other humans that have survived the biological warfare. One of these survivors is a teenage boy named Ritchie. Above is a screenshot of Ritchie driving his scooter to the hideout of the Zombies. Below is a photo I took of the same building a couple days ago (8/7/2009). The building is actually another facade, this one located at the main Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank.

Zombie Hideout from The Omega Man, Warner Bros. Burbank

I walk by this facade about once a week. I've even taken my lunch break on those steps - so when I came to this scene in the movie I immediately recognized the location. This was probably one of my most exciting finds because it shows part of the Warner Bros. backlot almost completely unchanged after the nearly 4 decades since the film came out!

Car Chase from The Omega Man located on WB Backlot
Above is another screenshot of the Warner Bros. studio backlot in Burbank. This location can be seen during the end of the film when the Zombies begin marching down the street and Heston starts shooting up the place. Below is a photo I took of the same area of the backlot as it appears today. For a long time this street was used as Chicago for filming of the hit TV show ER.

Warner Bros. Studio Backlot, Burbank, CA

WB Backlot as seen in The Omega Man
Above is one more screenshot of another section of the Warner Bros. studio backlot in Burbank as it appears in The Omega Man. Below are the same facades as they appear today.

Warner Bros. Backlot, Burbank, CA
The Warner Bros. Studio backlot is not open to the public, however, if you want to see these same locations then take one of the WB studio tours. You will be able to see all of these backlot locations except for the location of Heston's penthouse which is at the Warner Bros. Ranch. Unfortunately, they don't do tours of the ranch to my knowledge.


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